The story lines were plentiful going into the four shortest and speediest races at indoor States in 2016 in Barton Hall at Cornell. For one, it was the last time that the races would be held at Cornell after 26 total meets there and an an eleven year consecutive run that started in 2006. Barton was not considered a particularly fast track for longer races on the oval, but for straightaway sprints it could be scorching.
The runners who were needed to heat up the 55 meter dashes and hurdles were there in bonanza abundance in 2016, and they even included a guy who was vying to become the first boy ever to sweep the two 55 titles and match Saratoga's Madalayne Smith's feat at Barton in 2009.
Wilson Magnet senior Kelly Brown had the top seed times coming in for both events, but it was a Herculean task to blast through a total of six rounds of sprints to cop the double. His competition in both events was fierce, as in the dash he would be facing Huntington junior Kyree Johnson, South Shore sophomore Ramone Newland, and Canisius senior and 4th place 2015 States finisher Desmond Nicholas; and in the hurdles he would be up against principally Huntington senior Infinite Tucker. Brown's experience with managing his reserves indeed gave him fairly relaxed times in the preliminary rounds that placed him 4th among qualifiers in the dash and 6th in the hurdles.
There was no chance of any double on the girls side in the 55s, but the competition was equally dazzling. Rush-Henrietta sophomore Lanae-Tava Thomas had taken the 55 dash title in 2015 and during the year had set state and national class records in the event, but she was again squaring off with St. Anthony's junior Halle Hazzard who had been the runner-up the year before and had the 3rd-fastest NY time ever. Thomas also had some extra distractions since she needed to spend time at the long jump pit, an event that she would win by almost two feet, and she was also running a leg for the Royal Comets' winning 4x200m finals squad. Vestal freshman Tia Jones was also in the mix in the 55 meters if not for a win then maybe for a state class record. Paul Robeson senior Alyssa Sandy was a more solid favorite in the hurdles as she had a strong season's best at 7.88, but Bay Shore senior Aviana Goode, Clara Barton junior Paula Salmon, and Medgar Evers senior Shayla Broughton were also looking for the win.
Apologies for the first few fuzzy seconds of the girls 55 meters, but Barton was a tough place at which to get a clear shot of the start down the straightaway from high up in the stands.
A week later at Nationals, Thomas helped Rush-Henrietta capture the sprint medley relay title, Hazzard was 5th in the girls 60m dash, Nicholas was 7th in the boys 60m dash, and Tucker and Johnson were on Huntington's 6th place SMR squad.